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The misnomer of being one with God - H.G.Govind das

One of the most common statements we get to hear within the Yoga circle that, “being one with God, or being one with divine. Which gives rise to few questions such as “What does it mean to be one with God?” Or “Is it possible to become one with God?”

In response to these questions the srutis are quoted to justify. Though the srutis do mention, "aham Brahmasmi” but Brahman cannot be exactly translated in English as God. As per Vedic Srutis Brahman is different as compared to God.

The definition of God as per English dictionary is given as God (noun)

1. (in Christianity and other monotheistic religions) the creator and ruler of the universe and Source of all moral authority; the supreme being.

2. (god)(in certain other religions) a superhuman being or spirit worshiped as having power over nature or human fortunes; a deity: a moon god | an incarnation of the god Vishnu.

  • An image, idol, animal, or other object worshiped as divine or symbolizing a god.
  • Used as a conventional personification of fate: he dialed the number and, the gods relenting, got through at once.

3] (god)an adored, admired, or influential person: he has little time for the fashion victims for whom he is a god.

On the other hand the description of Brahman as per Upanishads (Indian sacred texts) is “supreme existence or absolute reality”. The etymology of the word Brahman, which is derived from Sanskrit, is uncertain. The variety of views are expressed in various Upanishads, but they all concur on the definition of brahman as eternal, conscious, irreducible, infinite, omnipresent, and the spiritual core of the universe of finiteness and change.

The difference between the definition of God and Brahman is clearly visible from the definition. Therefore, the word God cannot be translated as Brahman and vise versa. The two have completely different meaning, and they do not complement each other in regards to meaning of the word.

Every word in a particular language also represents a concept and it is not just a noun. Every word denotes some idea. The God in the western culture represent something completely different and Brahman cannot be translated in any other language unless that language has same concept and word to represent.

Therefore, it doesn’t make any sense when in Yoga circle “Aham Brhamasi” is translated as “I am god”. In fact many yogic paths consider this translation to be offensive.